Get, set...vroom! Formula 1 to begin in July 2020 amid COVID-19

Updated: Apr 28, 2020, 08:47 IST | AFP | Paris

Formula One boss Chase Carey says Coronavirus-hit season to begin with Austrian Grand Prix on July 5

Mercedes's British driver Lewis Hamilton powers his car ahead of Ferrari's German driver Sebastian Vettel during the Brazil Grand Prix in Sao Paulo last November. Pic/AFP
Mercedes's British driver Lewis Hamilton powers his car ahead of Ferrari's German driver Sebastian Vettel during the Brazil Grand Prix in Sao Paulo last November. Pic/AFP

Formula One boss Chase Carey on Monday targeted the Coronavirus-hit season eventually starting in Austria on July 5 after the French Grand Prix was cancelled and fans barred from the British race at Silverstone.

The French Grand Prix, which was to have been held on June 28, was the tenth race of the season to be scrapped or postponed. "We're targeting a start to racing in Europe through July, August and beginning of September, with the first race taking place in Austria on 3-5 July weekend," Carey said in a statement.

"September, October and November, would see us race in Eurasia, Asia and the Americas, finishing the season in the Gulf in December with Bahrain before the traditional finale in Abu Dhabi, having completed between 15-18 races."

Chase Carey
Chase Carey

French GP called off
Carey's statement followed quickfire announcements from the French organisers and a statement from the owners of the Silverstone track where the British Grand Prix is due to take place on July 19.

"Given the evolution of the situation linked to the spread of the Covid-19 virus, the French Grand Prix takes note of the decisions announced by the French state, making it impossible to maintain our event," the race's managing director Eric Boullier said.

It joins nine other races in the decimated 2020 championship to be either cancelled (Australia, Monaco) or postponed (Bahrain, China, Vietnam, Netherlands, Spain, Azerbaijan, Canada).

Organisers of the race at Le Castellet were forced to act after President Emmanuel Macron's announcement last week that the lockdown in France will be extended until May 11 and public gatherings banned until mid-July. Ruling out holding the race behind closed doors, Boullier said: "Le Castellet are already turning towards the summer of 2021".

What about the fans?
F1 supremo Carey said he expected "the early races to be without fans" but hoped that spectators would be allowed back "as we move further into the schedule". He added: "We still have to work out many issues like the procedures for the teams and our other partners to enter and operate in each country. The health and safety of all involved will continue to be priority one and we will only go forward if we are confident we have reliable procedures to address both risks and possible issues."

Revised F1 calendar

July 5: Austria
July 19: Great Britain
August 2: Hungary
August 30: Belgium
September 6: Italy
September 20 Singapore
September 27: Russia
October 11: Japan
October 25: United States
November 1: Mexico
November 15: Brazil
November 29: Abu Dhabi

Races postponed: Bahrain (March 22), Vietnam (April 5), China (April 19), Netherlands (May 3), Spain (May 10), Monaco (May 24), Azerbaijan (June 7), Canada (June 14)

Races cancelled: Australia (March 15), France (June 28)

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